Grotto Header

Nimue's Grotto


by Christopher Cather

The wind cut across Jennie's cheeks and she instinctively looked down at her little brother to make sure his hood was pulled tight. She turned him from the wind and he bundled his little head into her but didn't wrap his arms around her leg like he had when they'd first climbed out the window of the house and taken off into the night. He knew that could trip her up and they had to keep moving. He didn't know why, other than they were running from the men again.

He didn't like the one with the hairy face. He didn't like any of them, but that one in particular he knew was very bad. There was another one. The one with the yellow hair. He wasn't bad. They had to run from him just the same though, and he knew that.

Jennie's heart raced as she lead Bobby down the concrete steps towards the sound of the water. She could hear the car behind them and she wanted to get close to the river, or creek, or whatever it was because there probably wasn't a road there. A minute later she found out she was right as the steps gave way to a dirt path and tall grasses. She hurried them down the path by the light of the moon until she saw a dark circular shadow. She put Bobby behind her and moved forward to investigate. It was a dry and empty storm drain. Quickly she ducked inside and pulled him along. She sat down and leaned against the wall, pulling him on top of her and hugging him tightly.

"Are you OK Bobby?"

"Yeah. Hungry though."

"I know. Me too. I'll find us something in the morning. I promise."

"I know. You usually do," Bobby said as he nuzzled into her.

"We're safe here. Get some sleep Bobby."

"OK Jennie."

"And Bobby..."

"Yeah Jennie?"

"Don't go anywhere."

"I won't. Promise. I'm too tired anyway, I can't see the strings."

Moments later Bobby was asleep and Jennie tried to get some sleep as well. The concrete was cold but she was glad to have them out of the wind. She had told Bobby they were safe but it wasn't true. She was so tired it hurt. It made the cold hard concrete of the storm drain feel like the giant feather bed they had slept in all of last week. She missed that house, it was warm and full of food. This was nice too though she thought as she drifted off. But not too far, they were still out there.

It seemed like only a moment had passed before she caught a glint of sunlight in her eye and woke with a start. She felt the weight of Bobby on her and closed her eyes again. He hadn't gone anywhere. He was right there on top of her. Reassured she drifted back off and fell into a deep sleep. She woke alone.

Realizing he was gone she panicked, as she always did. Then she started to talk herself off the mental cliff she had put herself on. Well, that he had put her on. Yes, he was only four, but he just liked to look at things, he probably wouldn't get himself into trouble. Yes, he was gone, but he always came back.

She wanted to stretch her legs and it seemed like the wind had died. There was sunlight too, she hadn't felt that on her skin in days. The desire got the best of her and she crawled out into the daylight.

She felt the sun on her face and it was wonderful. She closed her eyes and stretched her arms and legs as she stepped away from the drain. It felt so good she didn't hear the footsteps behind her until it was too late and the bag was already over her head. She struggled as they tied her hands behind her back and she kicked them as hard as her 12 year old legs could kick. It was useless but she tried anyway.

"Where's the target?" she heard one ask. She knew the voice. It came from the one with the beard, from the direction of the drain. They must have looked inside it for him.

"He's not in there. Ask the sister."

"Where is he?"

She didn't say a word.

"Get her in the trunk, we got to go. Wilkins. You stay here and look for the target. Broadmoore, you come with me, grab the girl."

"Copy that, Jenkins."

The man gently picked her up and carried her off, eventually setting her down in the trunk of a car. The trunk shut and the engine started. They tore off down the road and she became truly frightened. He wouldn't be able to find her now. He was going to come back to the storm drain and she was going to be gone. He was going to be terrified. What would he do? Where would he go? Who would take care of him?

An hour passed as the engine droned on and she cried for the lot of it.


"Bobby?" she whispered. "How did you get here?"

"I found you on the string. It's hard 'cause you were moving."

"Sorry, they took me."

"Yeah. I wanna go now Jennie."

"Where will you go?"

"Not me. Us."

"How? You can only take yourself."

"Only if we stay on this one. I found a new one though. I'll make a bubble."

"You found a new what, Bobby? A new string?"

"I don't know the word. It holds the strings. There's like a door, new one's past that. Has strings too, but they're kind'a different."

The car slowed and turned. Then stopped and the engine died. The doors opened.

"You want me to do it Jennie?"

"Is it safe there?"

"No." Bobby said, with a mischievous giggle.

A moment later Agent Jenkins opened the trunk and swore.

It was empty.

About the Author

Christopher Cather grew up in the Midwest and has spent the last 20+ years traveling the country, living and working in over 35 states. As an observer of people, places and things he is mostly interested in the underlying motivations of people, forgotten history of places, and the engineered functions of things. According to his mother he began the practice of putting himself to sleep at the age of three by telling her bedtime stories that he made up as he went along, never repeating the same story twice. According to his children, he's still doing that today.